Sunday, April 13, 2014

If Holy Thursday Services Are Profaned

Today Holy Week starts.  In this week, particularly during the Triduum, we celebrate our redemption.  These are our highest Holy Days - much more so than Christmas.  On Facebook walls and blog posts everywhere I see the call to turn away from the muck of the world and focus solely on prayer, etc.  They also include the fight against dissidence within the Church.  Would that it were possible - but it isn't.  That goes double when we may well find dissidence rubbed in our faces during Triduum liturgies.

This week's Catholic Standard has a picture similar to this that appeared in the Washington Times two years ago.  I don't see that picture in the online version of the Standard, but I think a gauntlet has been tossed.  I hope I'm wrong, but I suspect parishes could well be put under pressure to admit women to the Holy Thursday foot-washing.  If that happens, we cannot just politely sit there and pretend all is hunky-dorry with the world.  So - what to do?

For some of us ladies, we may need to act beforehand, for that's when our participation in the foot-washing may be solicited.  Of course we have to decline (for we cannot participate in dissidence) - and let them know why.  Be polite and respectful, but be very firm, clear and complete in your explanation.

Now if we're at the service and we see men and women going up to the altar, what then?  Here's what I'll do, should I be so unfortunate as to see that.  I will immediately kneel (but lean back in the seat so as not to disturb the person in front of me), pull out my Rosary, bow my head and pray a prayer in reparation.  I will not look up at the travesty happening on the altar.

It's a pity that we must consider these actions during Holy Week, but we must deal with reality as it presents itself, not as we'd ideally like it to be.


  1. Good advice about how to handle this situation, which I must say is just the tip of the iceburg….there will be more to
    come….."hold on it's going to be a bumpy ride"….

  2. The Holy Father will be abusing Maundy Thursday liturgy again this year, albeit with forewarning. (Last year, the Vatican didn't even warn us about the foot washing of Muslim women prisoners.) This year, Pope Francis will be washing the feet of men and women hospital patients.
    IMO, The Pope can wash as many pairs of feet he wants to, at any place, at any other day - but not on Holy Thursday. On Holy Thursday we commemorate Our Lord's institution of two sacraments: the Holy Eucharist and Holy Orders. The mandatum foot-washing has something to do with the call to the priesthood - NOT, as Francis wants to point out, His own Humbleness.
    Atteding Holy Thursday liturgy is not obligatory, so if you will not be able to take it when priests in your parish start washing women's feet, don't go. And don't watch Pope Francis on tv as he washes people's feet.
    But don't give up praying, praying, praying...for the Church, Her people, and the Pope.

  3. It seems everything always goes back to the changing of the liturgy. The prelude to the changing of the mass occurred in the 50s with the changing of the Holy Week rites. Had these rites not been changed, you could attend mass w/out having to worry about anyone being invited into the sanctuary to take off their shoes. From the Rorate blog spot a few years ago:
    3. (OHS 1956): The washing of feet is no longer at the end of Mass but in the middle of Mass. (65)

    Commentary: The reform appealed to a restoration of the “veritas horarum” [i.e., observance of the “true times” of the services], an argument used in season and out, like a veritable hobby horse. In this case, however, the chronological sequence given in the Gospel is abandoned. Rivers of ink flowed in order to convince others of the scandal of an horarium that was not in full accord with that of the Gospels, but in this case not only was a rite anticipated, or postponed, for practical reasons, but the chronological order of the Gospel narrative was inverted within a single ceremony. St. John writes that Our Lord washed the feet of the Apostles after the supper: “et cena facta” [“the supper having been finished”] (John 13: 2). It escapes understanding why the reformers, for whatever obscure motive, chose, arbitrarily, to put the washing of the feet directly in the middle of Mass. While Mass is being celebrated, consequently, some of the laity are allowed to enter the sanctuary and take off their shoes and socks. Apparently there was a desire to re-think the sacredness of the sanctuary and the prohibition of the laity from entering it during divine services. The washing of feet, therefore, is spliced into the offertory, an abuse whereby the celebration of Mass is interrupted with other rites, a practice founded on the dubious distinction of Liturgy of the Word and Liturgy of the Eucharist.

    (MR 1952): The rite known as the Mandatum, or washing of the feet, is carried out after Mass and not in the sanctuary, after the stripping of the altars and without interrupting Mass or allowing the laity to enter the sanctuary during the service, and withal respecting the chronological sequence given in the Gospel. (67)
    [they have much more on the other rites including those of Holy Thursday]
    Here is a link to the Mandatum prior to the change – begins page 398
    I have ‘The Peoples Mass Book’ from 1966 Copyright World Library of Sacred Music Inc. Cincinnati, Ohio. The rite begins w/antiphons and is intact except trinity antiphon has been cut and the concluding prayer (page 402 in link above) is not written out ‘… forever and ever’ so I’m not sure if has been changed: “which thou has commanded us to imitate: that as here the outward stains are washed away by us and from us, so the inward sins of us all may be blotted out by Thee…”
    While it appears in the missal in the same place, i.e. after the altar has been stripped, instructions during mass state: ‘If the ceremony of the Washing of the Feet is to be performed it takes place after the homily. See p 51.’ P51: ‘The Washing of the Feet’: In an appropriate place the twelve men whose feet are to be washed, are seated. As the celebrant starts the washing, the following antiphons are said or sung. In each instance, only one verse of the psalm is used.’

  4. Then I have a missal from 1986 which Fr. Ron Jamison, now rector of Cathedral of St. Matthew, photos 3, 4 & 7 of Washington Time link purchased for Holy Redeemer College Park Parish, entitled “Worship”, “Published w/ecclesiastical approval, Archdiocese of Chicago”: 812 ‘Washing of Feet’ The homily is followed by the washing of feet, the mandatum (from the Latin word for “command”: “A new commandment I give to you…”). This is a simple gesture of humble service: the presider and others wash the feet of various members of the assembly. Such a gesture, with the song which accompanies it, speaks directly of the way of life Christians seek.” A Latin versicle w/score, entitled ‘I give you a new commandment’, Taize Community 1979, Jaques Berthier, b. 1923: ‘Mandatum novum do vobis, dicit Dominus, dicit Dominus.’ Other appropriate songs are: ‘Ubi Caritas’ and ‘Jesus Took a Towel’. The Mass continues with the general intercessions.”
    Then I have Magnificat magazine ‘rite’ from 2007-10: “Washing of Feet. Depending on pastoral circumstances, the washing of feet follows the homily. The men who have been chosen are led by the ministers to chairs prepared in a suitable place. Then the priest (removing his chasuble if necessary) goes to each man. With the hep of the ministers he pours water over each one’s feet and dries them. Meanwhile, some of the following antiphons or other appropriate songs are sung.” They list the same 1966 antiphons (eliminating the Trinity), but then split off the last three antiphons into a novel new rite: “At the beginning of the liturgy of the Eucharist, there may be a procession of the faithful with gifts for the poor. During the procession the following may be sung or another appropriate song.” [Then they list the charity Antiphons]
    Seems have stripped meaning of washing away sin all together. In 2006 a female relative who attends HRCP was asked by the parish secretary if she would have her feet washed on Holy Thursday. After initially refusing agreed since secretary said it was hard to get anyone to do it. Relative prepared by buying new socks (because her husband’s had had a hole the day he was picked for this duty back in the 70s) and getting a manicure. She was disappointed because priest did not even touch her foot (and it was only one foot), but poured water over it from a pitcher and then dried it with a towel. Relative does not go to communion normally. Relative didn’t think to go to confession and didn’t go to communion that Holy Thursday either. Relative was shocked when at Easter dinner another relative told her that only men were supposed to have their feet washed. Why would her friend the parish secretary invite her to do something wrong? She figured it out that since it is so hard to get anyone they have to use women.


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